Personal Injury Lawyers Jonesboro, Arkansas

Important Changes in Trucking Regulations: What You Need to Know

View from inside a passenger car as a tractor-trailer speeds by on the highway.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) aimed at revolutionizing the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) program. This move is more than just a procedural tweak; it's a bold step forward in enhancing efficiency and flexibility in the CDL process. These changes in trucking regulations could reduce the time it takes for applicants to obtain a CDL while maintaining safety standards and preventing truck accidents.

Benefits of these changes in trucking regulations

A major aspect of the NPRM focuses on the administration of CDL knowledge tests, especially those conducted by third-party examiners. The proposal aims to standardize these tests and ensure their integrity and consistency across the board. This step is a critical measure in maintaining the high safety standards expected of CMV drivers.

The FMCSA believes that these proposed changes will be a significant factor in alleviating the ongoing CMV driver shortages. Streamlining the CDL process increases efficiency for drivers and contributes to the stability of the supply chain.

Key changes in trucking regulations

Below, you'll find five important changes in trucking regulations that the FMCSA has recently proposed:

1. CDL skills testing for out-of-state applicants

Under Section 383.79(a)(1), states can administer CDL skills tests to applicants from other states only if they received training in the testing state. Test results are then sent electronically from the testing state to the applicant's home state. However, the NPRM suggests eliminating this training location requirement.

This proposed change in the NPRM would give states the freedom to test out-of-state applicants regardless of where they received training. This flexibility could enable applicants to schedule their CDL skills tests in states with shorter wait times. This could potentially speed up the CDL acquisition process without compromising safety.

2. Expanded privileges for CLP holders

Under Section 383.25(a)(1), Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) holders are only permitted to drive a CMV on public roads for behind-the-wheel BTW training under the supervision of a CDL holder. The FMCSA proposed to allow CLP holders who have passed the CDL skills test to operate a CMV for any lawful purpose. This is contingent upon the presence of a CDL holder in the CMV and the CLP holder possessing proof of passing the skills test.

Since the establishment of minimum Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) standards by FMCSA, CLP holders who have successfully completed the skills test have demonstrated their capability to safely operate a CMV. This change asserts that drivers who are already meeting CDL requirements but are awaiting their physical CDL document can operate safely under the supervision of a CDL holder.

3. Eliminating the waiting period for CLP holders

Under Section 383.25(e), CLP holders currently face a 14-day waiting period before they can take the CDL skills test. The FMCSA is considering removing this waiting period. Previously, this restriction aimed to ensure that CLP holders received adequate behind-the-wheel training before attempting the skills test. However, with the implementation of ELDT requirements, CLP holders are now better prepared for the skills test. This preparation is applicable for Class A or B CDLs and the P or school bus (S) endorsements.

4. Raising standards for third-party knowledge testers and examiners

The FMCSA aims to enhance the integrity of third-party CDL knowledge testing. Key proposals include mandating the same training, certification, and record checks for third-party knowledge examiners that state examiners undergo. However, third-party examiners already certified under this section and conducting knowledge tests would be exempt from redundant requirements.

States employing third-party knowledge testers must adhere to the auditing and monitoring requirements. The NPRM also introduces a new rule requiring electronic administration of knowledge tests by third-party testers.

5. Operation of empty passenger CMVs

The FMCSA proposed a new exemption for CDL holders driving empty passenger CMVs from needing a passenger (P) endorsement during certain operations. Specifically, a P endorsement would not be required when a driver is moving the vehicle from the manufacturer to a distributor or in a driveaway-towaway operation.

Current FMCSA regulations already exclude the need for a school bus (S) endorsement to operate an empty school bus. These endorsements typically verify a driver's ability to safely transport and evacuate passengers. This proposed change aims to facilitate the movement of empty passenger CMVs to various locations without affecting passenger safety.

Safeguard your rights after a truck accident in Arkansas

These proposed changes in trucking regulations can yield promising solutions to the trucking shortage, supply chain issues, and testing. However, it's important that the standard of safety is upheld on Arkansas roads. If a truck driver's or trucking company's negligence resulted in your injury, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. An attorney at McDaniel Law Firm, PLC can guide you through the process and protect your rights every step of the way.

Our law firm has extensive experience handling truck accident claims and helping injured motorists and their families get justice. We would be glad to answer any questions you have and discuss the next steps in your claim during a free consultation. Contact us online or call our Jonesboro law office to learn more.

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